Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Monday 26th November


We had friends round last night and got given this 2019 Eco Year Planner. Each month has an eco-theme, Transport, Healthy Living, Waste etc – with loads of tips to improve your life-style and practical ways to tread more lightly on the planet. I was particularly taken by ‘May – Bio-diversity’ – tip no. 6 – Volunteer for a local wildlife organisation! Although there’s probably nothing you haven’t seen somewhere else before, it’s all brought together here in a readily accessible and practical calendar. It even gives you tips about creative ways to recycle it at the end of the year! An excellent gift for people who have everything and could probably do with less! ecoyearplanner


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Sunday 25th November


One of two pairs of Wigeon at Felbrigg yesterday 

Very little to report wildlife-wise over the past few days, despite several walks around the park. Yesterday there was the now regular pair of Egyptian Geese and a pair of Wigeon on the water meadow.  Another pair of Wigeon was on the lake with a female Tufted Duck and, apart from the usual Mallard, Teal & Gadwall,  that’s been about it in the way of wildfowl. At Sustead Common the Siskin flock is slowly building up – there were 17 on Friday when I was there topping up the feeders. Bullfinch have been regular, both at Sustead Common and down the lane. We did go to Overstrand beach with the kids and Dexter on Thursday, but apart from a few gulls a small flock of Common Scoter flying east was the only notable record. That’s winter birding for you!

Our biggest news by far this week though is that Felbeck Trust are now the official legal owners of Spurrell’s Wood! We got some reasonable media coverage including a live piece on Radio Norfolk and this piece in the EDP. A massive personal THANK YOU to all those who helped make this happen!


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Wednesday 21st November


Work on the lake is imminent

It was the NENBC mid-week walk this morning. On my way to the meeting point at Sexton’s Lodge car park I spotted two largish birds flying over in a south-easterly direction. I thought at first they might be immature gulls but then quickly realised that they were Curlew. Alas, by the time I’d got my camera set up they’d disappeared behind the trees. Only the second record in over a year. The walk itself was well attended (20 people) and we did manage to find a few birds – 42 in total I think. Highlights included several mixed flocks, including Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Goldcrest, a couple of Wigeon on the Water Meadow and Tufted on the lake –  no sign of any Goldeneye, but Siskin near The Heath. We also discovered that the paths are closed, pending the work on the sluice / spill-way commencing.


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Tuesday 20th November


iPhone photo of juvenile Peregrine at Cley yesterday. There was also one reported at Felbrigg as well

Of course it would be when we were at Cley all day – the first Goldeneye on Felbrigg lake in over two years! No sign though from first light this morning – gr-nash!! It was blowing a bit of a gale, so it is possible I over-looked them – though I doubt it. Small recompense came in the form of a Lesser Redpoll in a mixed flock, which also contained Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tit, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Goldcrest and Chaffinch. Highlights from our day at Cley included the juvenile Peregrine – which sat for much of the day on an island in the middle of Simmond’s Scrape, half a dozen Velvet Scoter on the sea, the flock of sixty Snow Bunting near the pill-box and an adult Caspian Gull (or ‘type’) briefly on Simmond’s in the morning.

Adult Caspian Gull (or ‘type’) – Simmond’s Scrape – distant record shot


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Sunday 18th November


Record shot of Kingfisher at Felbrigg – my first this year!

I spent yesterday morning in the Great Wood –  in particular, those areas with conifers. I was specifically looking for Crossbill but also with a slim chance of stumbling across a Nutcracker! A party of 30 of the former had been seen by National Trust estates staff, up on the main road a couple of days ago, and we’re still wrestling with the implications of the two independent reports of possible Nutcracker in the south west of Cromer in the last couple of weeks. In the event I saw neither, and very little else besides. A single Woodcock was my best bird, before finally deciding to give up and have a look around the lake. Whist counting Teal on the water meadows, a ‘blue streak’ flew through my field of view. It was a Kingfisher, which briefly perched in the Hawthorn by the small pond before flying back towards the lake. This is my first sighting of the year. There was no sign of the Stonechats, but a single Tufted Duck, two Wigeon, Little Grebe and a squealing Water Rail in Boat-house Bay were all good stuff. A pair of Egyptian Geese has arrived back on the water meadows in recent days – it won’t be long before they’re thinking of breeding! Not surprisingly, given the continuing unseasonably warm weather, there are still a few Common Darter around.

A pair of late Common Darter, ovipositing


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Thursday 15th November


Record shot of Twite at Blakeney FM, yesterday

We had an unexpected visit from Bob & Sue, our birding friends from Lincolnshire, yesterday. It gave me an excuse to do a bit of birding, rather than the boring office work I’d got planned! A trip to Sheringham Esplanade got off to a good start as a late Swallow zoomed over our heads, just as we stepped out of the car. No one we spoke to had seen the King Eider so we walked up to the coastal look-out and began scanning. Before long I found the bird in amongst the gulls around the crab pots. It was distant but gave good  views in bright sunshine on a flat calm sea. Over the next hour it slowly drifted east. In the afternoon we went to Blakeney Fresh Marsh – found the Twite but alas not the Lapland Buntings. Having said farewell to B&S I then put in a stint around south west Cromer, looking for the reported Nutcracker (a second, independent, report was received on Tuesday) but without success – obviously!

Another distant record shot of the King Eider at Sheringham